Favorite Art Materials

A few of my favorite things.

Updated September 2023

I update this page regularly to reflect my current favorite materials, but products I used previously are stored as an Archive for a personal record. If you saw something here before that is no longer here, check the Archive page.

I keep this page relevant by listing only my current favorites. Reviews for all products can still be found by using the "Product Review" label, by using the tabs across the top of the blog, or by using the search box at upper right to search for the specific product name. Highlighted below are reviews of products I currently use most often:

Tina's Top Colored Pencils
A Word (or Two) on Brushes
Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle water-soluble pencils
Hahnemuhle 100% Cotton Watercolor Sketchbook

I talk about some of my favorite sketching materials in a July 2020 interview on the Erasable Podcast and a July 2021 episode of the Art Supply Posse podcast.

Here are other related posts that you might find interesting:

Tina's 2016 Top 10
Tina's 2015 Top 10
Tina's 2014 Top 10
Tina's 2013 Top 10 
Tina's 2012 Top 10 
Tina's Bottom 10 (including reasons for detesting these products)
Travel Sketching Tips
Lightfastness is a Philosophical Issue (and a Longevity Test of Zig Markers)
Epic Pen Search and Discovery (my multi-part series on my search for the Grail of variable-line-width fountain pen nibs)
What I've Learned from Field Notes
How Many Colored Pencils Do You Really Need?
If I Had to Choose Only One Colored Pencil

(Note: For your convenience, I’ve included links to online resources for my favorite art supplies, but please shop around for the best value. I am not affiliated with any of these retailers and will not receive a kickback, even though I should, since I give them so much of my money.)

Everyday-Carry Bag

After more than a decade of using the “small” size Rickshaw Zero Messenger Bag as my everyday-carry, in 2023, I made a transition to downsize to the same style of bag but in the “mini” size. Downsizing the bag necessarily meant also cutting the fat in my daily-carry sketch materials. Please see the full story of how the transition was made. For more on bags and sketch kit accessories, see this page.

9/23 Rickshaw Zero Messenger Bag in the "mini" size

Tools and Materials 

Other than changing the colored pencils frequently, my basic materials are relatively stable. My rule is that everything except the Derwent water spritzer must fit into the Rickshaw pencil case (see below). Here are the basic materials:

9/23 Colored pencils change frequently; most other materials are stable.

9/23 Rickshaw large Waldo pencil case (a prototype that was never produced)


When I downsized my bag in 2023, it was also necessary to downsize my daily-carry sketchbook. After using an A5-size sketchbook for most of my sketching life, switching to a sketchbook half that size was probably my most radical change in materials. My current favorites are an A6 Hahnemühle 100 percent cotton watercolor sketchbook and a similar size Uglybook.

In the studio, I still use many Stillman & Birn sketchbooks in various sizes and paper types.

9/23 A6-size Hahnemuhle 100 percent cotton watercolor sketchbook and Uglybook with colored pages.

On the Sidewalk

When I'm sketching on location, I prefer to stand. My opened bag keeps all materials and tools standing upright and easily accessible.

The Rickshaw pencil case keeps all materials upright and easily accessible. My two pairs of prescription glasses take up more than their share of space in my bag.

Cafe and Car Sketching

In the cold, wet months when I do more urban sketching in coffee shops and from my mobile studio – situations when I have a seat and table (or a center console “taboret”) – I have more flexibility in the materials I can bring along (carried in a supplemental tote bag). I love using my Peg & Awl Sendaks (mini and full-size) in those settings.

2/22 Mini Sendak when sketching in my car 

2/22 Using an outdoor bench as a cafe table 

6/23 Center console watercolor "taboret" in my mobile studio

In the Studio

2/21 My favorite Carl Angel 5 Royal sharpener

Although I use most of the same favorite materials at home as I do on location, I have a few indispensable tools that I use only in my studio:

7/22 I love days when I can take my studio out to our shady back deck. . . 

. . . but my indoor studio is more colorful.


  1. I love your gear> Everything!
    Probably I will ask you some suggestions on some of your equipment later, especially the marker and the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks.
    And what an ordered and clean desktop... I will never had something like you! :)



  2. Love your kit! Have you ever tried the Cretacolor water-soluble coloured pencils, "Aquamonolith" series? (I don't know if they're available in U.S.). They're fantastic. Good thing is they are made all-graphite, there's no wood around the graphite. Bad thing is, if they fall they will break in two pieces.

  3. I always love reading about your gear and bags. So interesting.

  4. Dear Friend Tina,
    A fab blog with many things I like so much. I will watching all works.
    Best regards,

  5. Hi Tina...live your blog. So much great information. Can you please advise the size of your Rickshaw bag? I've looked over your blog but can't see any sizing...unless my eyesight is worse than I thought! 🤓 Thanks again for a great blog.

    1. Hi Jeannette! I have the "small" Rickshaw Zero bag. You can find all the dimensions and other info here: http://www.rickshawbags.com/small-zero-messenger-bag
      If you explore the site, you'll find info on the other sizes, too. Have fun, and happy sketching!

    2. Thank you Tina....just need to decide between the small and the medium 🤔😀

  6. Oops...darn eyes are bad. "Love" not live 😜

  7. Hi Tina,
    Very informative blog! Thanks, came to know so many new art supplies which I can explore. It's a pleasure to read.

  8. Hello Tina,

    I’ve been enjoying your blog. It has been very helpful. I too have started binding my own sketchbooks using the Coptic stitch. However, so far I bind them first and then use them. I will be taking a trip to Italy this May and will be traveling VERY light,and small. So, I’m searching for anyway I can minimize my kit, and lighten my load. The idea of carrying signatures which I can bind later is very intriguing. Tell me, do you remove your temporary folder prior to binding? Or are the colorful I assume heavier weight paper covers retained in the bound sketchbook? I use 140# watercolor paper. When I bound my sketchbooks I used only two sheets per signature. I understand you are using 4 sheets stitched together in your signature? What stitch do you use for the signatures? I appreciate your advice on this topic. Thank you,

    1. Hi Stephanie! I bind 4 sheets plus the heavier colored paper cover into a signature using a simple temporary stitch (saddle stitch?), and I punch the holes so that they will be the same as what I would want to use when I finally bind with Coptic. I fill the signature with sketches, and I wait until I have 5 more signatures filled. Then I cut away the temporary stitching, remove the colored paper cover (which is simply to protect the first and last pages of the signature), and bind the 6 signatures together with Coptic using the same holes that I had punched previously for the temporary stitching. It's a very lightweight and simple solution that has been working well for me for 5 years! :-)

    2. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. This is very helpful.

  9. March 7, 2021 Yes, Tina, I'm totally fascinated with your Blog, and it's been under a year since it 'discovered' me through a search result list about Pens and Inks. It is clear you are the 'Sherlock Holmes & company of the Sketching and Materials world! or should be acknowledged as such! You have taught me about things I didn't even realize I needed or wanted to know and it's been fun! Thanks for your great blog!

  10. I love the bags ♥, these are perfect for artists that like to travel places and find exciting views to paint. I love to travel places and paint landscapes. Next month I am planning to go to a beach with my family, and I'll bring my new set of art materials from Warehouse of Art Supplies. My friend recommended them, and I want to try them while on vacation.

  11. Thanks for sharing your favourite art materials. One of my go-to art supplies is the Derwent coloured pencil from Warehouse of Art Supplies. I super love the quality and its texture. Also, check out their premium quality artist canvas very recommendable.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...